The UFC matchmakers have been busy sending out contracts. In today’s MMA odds and ends I’ll give my thoughts on two new bouts for UFC 237, including a potential No. 1 contender fight in the featherweight division, plus my initial reactions to two new bouts fights for UFC Russia.
Jose Aldo vs. Alexander Volkanovski, UFC 237
Featherweight contenders Jose Aldo and Alexander Volkanovski are set to clash at UFC 237 in a potential title eliminator. The card takes place May 11 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and news of this bout was first revealed by MMA journalist Farah Hannoun. Aldo (28-4) is 10-3 in the UFC and is coming off of back-to-back knockout wins over Renato Moicano and Jeremy Stephens. After a rough stretch that saw him get knocked out three times in four fights, Aldo looks better than ever and is making a late-career run for the belt he once held for years. Volkanovski (19-1) is 6-0 in the UFC and in his last bout brutally knocked out Chad Mendes. Many consider him a future featherweight champion, and this fight should tell us a lot about that. This is a tremendous fight, and not an easy one to call. Aldo will likely be favored due to his name value and Octagon experience, but Volkanovski has looked incredible in the UFC and should be a live dog in this bout.
Thiago Alves vs. Laureano Staropoli, UFC 237
Veteran welterweight Thiago Alves returns at UFC 237 when he takes on prospect Laureano Staropoli. MMAFighting.com broke the news. Alves (23-13) is 15-10 overall in the UFC and most recently won a controversial split decision over Max Griffin. Staropoli (8-1) is riding a six-fight win streak and in his UFC debut won a “Fight of the Night” bonus for his decision win over Hector Aldana. At this point you have to fade Alves and I would favor the 26-year-old Staropoli to win this bout. But considering he’s an unknown, it’s possible he’ll be an underdog in this bout, so keep your eye out for him.
Sultan Aliev vs. Keita Nakamura, UFC Fight Night 149
Welterweights Sultan Aliev and Keita Nakamura are set to clash at UFC Fight Night 149, taking place April 20 at Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. Nakamura replaced the injured Emil Weber Meek on relatively short notice for this bout. Aliev (14-3) is just 1-2 in the UFC and most recently was finished by Warlley Alves. Nakamura (34-9-2, 1 NC) is 4-6 overall in the UFC, including a 4-3 mark in his second stint inside the Octagon. In his last fight, he edged out a split decision over Salim Touahri. Both guys are going to be on the chopping block with a loss, and this fight looks like a close one. I’d favor Nakamura slightly just due to his durability, but it could go either way.
Abdul-Kerim Edilov vs. Devin Clark, UFC Fight Night 149
A light heavyweight bout between Abdul Kerim-Edilov and Devin Clark is also slated for UFC Fight Night 149. Edilov (17-4) has not fought since a September 2017 knockout win over Bojan Mihaljovic and has only one fight since 2015. However, he’s just 27-years-old and is currently riding an 11-fight win streak dating back to 2013. He’s a bit of a wild card at 205lbs, but overall looks like a promising prospect if he can stay healthy and stay out of trouble with USADA. Clark (9-3) is 3-3 in the UFC and is coming off of a brutal TKO loss to Aleksandar Rakic. At this point it’s just very hard to trust the chin of Clark, and a hard-hitter like Edilov will surely be favored to beat him in this fight.